Receivable/Accounts - Information for Credit and Collection Issues

Friday, August 13, 2021

Broadening Your Collection Team Horizons

If you run a collection agency, the most important element of your operation would be your collection team.  What are you doing to mentor them?

t’s often said in the credit industry that credit managers are the last of the ‘general managers’ … meaning that while many managers specialize their roles, credit managers are required to be a little bit of a sales manager, a little bit accounting manager, a little bit customer support manager, etc.

our collection team is no different.

’ve worked in all sorts of collection environments over the last three decades, and while there might be a generic ‘collection officer’ title, many really great team members specialize their roles.  A client needs a fancy excel spreadsheet report with formulas?  Someone on the team can do that.  Got an escalated call that needs diffusing?  The team knows who to forward the call to.  Someone is a great trainer for new staff.  Someone becomes a morale booster for the team that everyone leans on as an unofficial leader.  Someone is great with database queries.  Someone is great with collection strategy.  The list goes on.

Most collection agencies ignore these talents, give everyone a cubicle and a headset, and tell them to do their job and only their job.

This limiting behaviour, is of course, insane.  No other industry limits growth, development, and mentoring of their team members like this.  Collections, it seems, is often stuck emulating the Mad Men television series, acting like it’s still the 1960’s.  Either agency owners are disconnected with their team members, are afraid of developing staff who might leave to go to a competing company, or are limited by their clients or stifling security policies, where everything is ‘need to know’.

s a collector, I can tell you some of the best parts of my career were when I was challenged.  I built a database.  I learned how to set up a VOIP phone system.  I went to conferences, and met with clients.  It helped me become the person I am today -- without those rare opportunities, that frankly I often had to fight to take, I wouldn't be where I am.  No one wants to sit in a cubicle for eight hours a day, wear a headset, and grind out the same day every day.

Ask your team members, what do they want to learn?  How do they want to grow?  If they are interested in sales or marketing, send them to a trade show.  If they are interested in database management, train them to help with tasks that would normally bottleneck on the IT team.  If you have someone naturally inclined to build rapport with your client contacts, make them a project manager and client liaison.  If one of the team gets strategy and liquidation, let them report on a project.  And if you have team members that aren’t inclined, at least open the door and offer them opportunities to grow and challenge themselves.

hen everyone starts learning new things, your company will be stronger, your team more engaged, and your overall company will become more skilled over time.  Will some folks leave to go to the competition?  Some might … but if you build an environment where people can grow and learn, that will encourage most people to stay.  Will some folks sometimes stumble or fail in their new projects?  Yes, but you can take your time for them to grow into the role, or you can always try again until you find something that fits their abilities better.  It’s trial and error, but no one will ever say ‘you know, I had this awful job once where they let me pick new tasks and roles’.

ime to get out of the 1960’s, and look how technology companies like Hubspot mentor their team members.  Time to engage 100% of your team member’s abilities.  Give them a chance to grow.

ant to know how we assign project management roles at our agency?  Got ideas about mentoring you want to share?  Drop me an email, always happy to chat.

hanks kindly,

lair DeMarco-Wettlaufer
INGSTON Data & Credit
ambridge, ON

1 comment:

  1. Another excellent read. It is very important to invest on your employees, not just on a monetary point of view like a pay raise or bonus but skill wise. The opportunities you mentioned are really interesting and will encourage the team members. They will feel that the employer care for them to grow. Unfortunately most of the agencies never think of this. I believe they find talking to team members asking how they want to grow is totally unproductive, rather they would discuss how the team could increase the profit for the company so that the performance would justify their "salary". Reason why most of the team members will just think this as just another job and will never enjoy being there, resulting high attrition rate.
    Take care.